Jun 04

Harvey Must Carry Mets

Well, if you want to be called “The Dark Knight,’’ and aspire to be ace of the Mets, then Matt Harvey needed to come up as big as he did in Thursday night’s 6-2 win in Arizona.

The Mets, who limped through May and who are on their way to a June swoon, are looking for Harvey to grab them by the scruff on the neck and shake them awake. Harvey did so, giving up two runs in seven innings with nine strikeouts.

HARVEY: Needs to carry Mets. (Getty)

HARVEY: Needs to carry Mets. (Getty)

Harvey, who entered the game winless in his previous five starts, will be followed by Jon Niese Friday and Bartolo Colon Saturday and Jacob deGrom Sunday. Niese has struggled and Colon has won eight games – seriously, how long will this keep rolling? – so, without a Harvey victory, this had the makings of a dismal trip.

Then San Francisco comes to town next week.

The bullpen choked away back-to-back 1-0 leads by Harvey, but in his last two games he had given up 11 runs – including three homers – in 12 innings. He gave up two more tonight, so that could be a cause of bubbling concern.

Manager Terry Collins theorized of a dead arm, which Harvey rebuffed by clocking in at the high 90s. More to the point, Harvey had looked less than ordinary in his last two starts, and when that happens the Mets look rather ordinary. Actually, worse that ordinary.

“I didn’t feel like I was dead,’’ said Harvey, who struck out 11 in his last start, a one-run loss to Miami. “I felt like I was coming out of my mechanics.’’

In addition to mechanics, and the blown saves by the bullpen, the Mets’ offense has given Harvey all of seven runs in his previous six games. The Mets gave Harvey nothing through the first five innings, then broke it open after he left the game. Each one of his 106 pitches had meaning.

However, when you’re supposed to be the “Dark Knight,’’ there are going to be games when you have to carry your team.

May 30

Niese Future Looking Bleak

Jon Niese went into the season as one of the Mets’ most important questions, and it isn’t being answered in the positive. Niese’s record is 3-5 and over the past three weeks his ERA has more than doubled to 4.42.

He wasn’t tagged with the loss today, but deserved to as he gave up five runs on seven hits in four innings. Yes, that’s pretty bad when you come down to it.

NIESE: In trouble/ (AP)

NIESE: In trouble/ (AP)

About the only certainty when it comes to Niese, is that at this rate there’s no way the Mets will trade lefty Steven Matz. At this rate it is becoming clear Niese’s future with the Mets is dwindling.

What else can you conclude with Niese giving up 22 runs is his past four starts?

Manager Terry Collins said Niese is healthy – he has been on the DL in each of the past two seasons – but his problem has been hitters driving the ball in the air (he gave two homers gave up today) when he’s a natural groundball pitcher.

It wasn’t long ago that Niese was a hot commodity as a hard throwing, healthy left-hander signed to a long-term contract.

That list is getting shorter and shorter, perhaps like his time with the Mets.

May 06

Rushing Wright Would Be Wrong

The Mets would be wrong to rush David Wright off the disabled list. Manager Terry Collins said Wright’s pulled right hamstring is making gradual progress, and the projection is he could get into a minor league rehab game this weekend and activated next week.

“He’s starting to speed things up, which is a good sign,” Collins told reporters at Citi Field.

WRIGHT: Take it easy. (AP)

WRIGHT: Take it easy. (AP)

Sounds good, but haven’t we heard similar projections from the Mets over the years, and this includes on Wright?

Thank you, but no.

I would rather wait and see Wright the following week if it means having him intact for the remainder of the season. Hamstrings are an extremely tricky and unpredictable injury. Wright not only has to stretch out the hamstring, but test it running, with start-and-stop moves and changing directions while running.

The conventional wisdom on hamstring injuries is – and remember when this first happened the prognosis was a tight hamstring – whatever the original timeframe simply add a week.

Sure, I would like to see Wright out next week. Hell, I wanted to see him a week ago. But, what I don’t want is to see him hurt again.

No need to rush.

May 03

We Will Know Mets’ True Feelings About Flores On Tuesday

It is a measure of how current GM Sandy Alderson – and the Mets’ brass in previous years – mislead fans that some of us are skeptical of the explanation given for the recent benching of shortstop Wilmer Flores.

FLORES: Resting again. (Getty)

FLORES: Resting again. (Getty)

It was no secret the Mets tried to obtain a shortstop during the winter, and several times Alderson cracked wise at Flores’ expense. Even when circumstances dictated Flores would be the Opening Day starter – primarily because they had less faith in Ruben Tejada – the Mets were reluctant to make the announcement.

After Flores committed an error which helped beat Jacob deGrom Thursday and his seventh the next night behind Matt Harvey, manager Terry Collins said he would rest the shortstop Saturday. Collins said it was his plan all along to Tejada a day. At the time, Collins said if he pulled Flores now it could destroy his confidence and he could never return to shortstop.

Alderson said: “We know he can catch the ball. The important thing right now is to make sure he understands we have confidence in his ability to catch the ball. He’s demonstrated it. This is not a hope and a prayer. He’s demonstrated it in the past. We know what limitations may exist at that position for him. This is not one of them — or shouldn’t be one of them. The short answer is: Yes, he’s got plenty of room.”

Collins emphasized his confidence: “You’ve got to give him a chance. You’ve got to give him a legitimate chance. … If this kid is going to be a big league player, he’s got to be able to get through some of these times. And therefore the leash has got to be long.”

Flores wasn’t in the lineup Sunday, which makes sense because coupled with Monday’s off day that would give him three straight days in which to clear his head.

However, what can we make of it if Flores isn’t in the lineup Tuesday against the Orioles?


Mar 26

With Urgent Questions Simmering, Why Still The Mystery With Gee?

Why do the Mets insist on going the mystery route when it comes to announcing roles in its pitching staff?

When Zack Wheeler was lost for the season it was announced Dillon Gee would assume his spot in the rotation. Manager Terry Collins said as such, but at the same time pitching coach Dan Warthen said it was an open competition between Gee and Rafael Montero.

GEE: C'mon, make it official.

GEE: C’mon, make it official.

So much for being on the same page.

It should be a slam dunk because Gee has limited experience pitching out of the bullpen while Montero has worked both as a starter and reliever. Then yesterday Collins flipped it so Montero would pitch against the Yankees. After the game, Collins told reporters in Tampa: “I’ve seen Dillon Gee pitch big games. I don’t need to see him pitch against the New York Yankees.’’

If anything, that sounded like an endorsement for Gee.

However, after Montero’s strong performance, Collins said he earned a spot on the staff, but wouldn’t say in what capacity.

Again, why is this so difficult?

Montero has pitched out of the pen, something Gee hasn’t for years. If anything, with little less than two weeks before the start of the season, I would figure Collins knows he has a starting five, but should realize the holes in the back end of the bullpen is a greater priority.

Revealing the rotation order and role for Montero should be among the easiest of things for Collins to decide as there seem to be more pressing questions:

Will Daniel Murphy and/or Wilmer Flores open the season on the disabled list?

Will reliever Vic Black be ready for Opening Day?

Will Niese get his mechanics ironed out?

Who will be the leadoff hitter?

Is there a left-handed reliever out there, anywhere?

So, with at least five significant questions that must be answered immediately, the Mets are spinning their wheels – at least that’s the public perception – on Gee and Montero, which should be givens.